Collagen - What is it Good for?
Collagen - What Is It And What Is It Good For?
Collagen, along with elastin, is a key structural component in the skin, particularly its lower layer (Dermis). Collagen is the protein that gives the skin its strength, resilience and firmness, while elastin provides flexibility to the skin tissues. As we age, the cells in our skin become thinner and lose elasticity because of the decreased levels of collagen production in our body. The skin cells also divide more slowly, which delays the regeneration and repair of the skin. It is interesting to note that continued sunlight exposure also takes its toll on the skin, as it causes the collagen in our skin to break down faster than natural aging actually does.
When the levels of collagen in our skin start dropping we get wrinkles, sagging skin, and other skin symptoms associated with aging. Our body takes longer to repair wounds so they are more likely to develop into scars and hyper-pigmentation (sun spots).
Reversing the Process
The best way to increase the collagen levels in your skin is to stimulate your body to build collagen. Stimulating your own collagen naturally (rather than having collagen injected, for instance) has the benefit of collagen being laid in an orderly, structured way. In addition, there is no risk of allergy, immune-system reaction or infection.
How do we trigger our body to build up more collagen? Our body "knows" how to heal itself, so we can use its own healing mechanism. Dermabrasion is a general term for the various methods of controlled abrasion of the upper layers of the skin. Exfoliation (chemical peeling) is probably the most famous method, but it has many shortcomings (specifically, we are only burning the outermost layer of the skin (epidermis), and not deeper, where collagen is formed. In addition it exposes our skin to harmful ultraviolet rays and increases the chance for skin cancer and hyper pigmentation).
In recent years the preferred way for natural formation of new collagen in the skin is Skin Needling or Collagen Induction Therapy, mainly because it is a relatively simple procedure which is easy to carry out at home, is very affordable and the fact that there is virtually no downtime.
Collagen Induction – How It's Done
Skin needling often involves a device called "derma roller" (or dermaroller). A Derma Roller is a drum-shaped tool with nearly 200 micro-needles, which you simply roll on your skin. The microscopic channels created in the skin are perceived by the body as damage which needs to be repaired. The natural healing process (which also involves the production of collagen) then kicks in.
Another benefit of skin needling is that the temporary micro channels that are created in the skin allow for certain molecules to get through which would otherwise be too large to penetrate the skin. Such are the molecules of collagen. For this reason applying a collagen cream is normally ineffective. But when applied directly after rolling, the collagen can get really absorbed in the skin.
Dermarolling must be combined with second skin actives: vitamin C, which is essential for collagen synthesis. A Vitamin C serum or cream should be applied while dermarolling to aid with skin recovery. And as always, a healthy diet rich in vitamin C is recommended.
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